I didn't know I could feel so guilty. The night before I had kissed Henry. And all because I felt sorry for myself. I didn't mean to lead him on. I didn't mean for it to happen. But in a way, it was nice. To not think about Keegan. And not to think about hi words that still left a stinging when I thought about them. He had to be so nice about it, about breaking up with me, that it hurt more than if he had just told me that he cheated on me, or that I wasn’t pretty enough. He had to be so nice about it.
So now, I am lying here in my bed, guilt rising up in my stomach. I squeezed my eyes shut, like I never wanted them to open again. I covered up my head with my blanket, as if I could hide from Henry and Keegan and magic and everything. The darkness seemed to comfort me, but only momentarily while I thought about Henry's lips, gently touching mine as we stood in the light of the street lamp, as if in that moment nothing bad could happen.
It was when we broke apart when I felt guilty. I didn't know what I was going to tell him. What I did wasn't a reflection of how I felt. Necessarily. Maybe it was. I didn't know, and that's why I didn't want talk all about it.
Just when I thought the guilt had gone away—momentarily, at least-- I saw a familiar figure walking across the street and up to the door.
Damn it, damn it, damn it, I thought, Really? Of all times.
Just then James' tall figure strode down the stairs quickly.
"James James James James!!!!" I shouted urgently.
"What, half-dead cousin?"
"You've been sleeping for nearly 15 hours now"
"I know, I know. Ok. Enough. You need to answer the door in a few seconds and tell him I sick. Do it or I will hex you like you would never believe."
A sort of grin spread across his face.
"Sure," he said with a shrug and continued galloping down the stairs.
As he reached the bottom, the door bell rang. I held my breath and listened carefully. James opened the door.
"Hey, what's up?" James said, with a doubtful tone.
"Um. I am here to see if Rose is around?" Henry said, his voice said that made the guilt rise up all again. I liked kissing him. But I couldn't like kissing him. It was a mistake. Memories and doubts swirled around as i listened for James.
What if James tells him the truth? I suddenly worried
You better say sick, you son of a bitch.... I thought.
"Sick." he said, and I released my breath.
"Oh. Tell her to feel better then, and if she wants to come over when she's done, I would love to talk to her..."
Warmth spread across my face as I smiled, but it quickly faded.
What the bloody hell have I gotten myself into? I asked myself.
The door closed and I heard James come back up the stairs.
He plopped down onto my bed, the springs bouncing and creaking as he did.
He playfully placed his elbow on his knee, his chin in his palm, and batted his eyelashes.
With the flick of his hand, he said "So....?" in a high pitched girly voice.
I laughed a little ... But shook my head.
"You asked for a favor, and I want an explanation..." he said in his normal voice again.
"And I thank you for that favor, but no."
"You know, if you don't explain I will assume the worst..."
"And what would that be....?"
"Dunno. Al and I could do some speculating, though."
He rose and walked the door. He called out Al's name a couple of times before giving up.
He opened the door "I'll get it out of you...."
I groaned and turned to my side.
I couldn’t bring myself to going over to Henry’s. I am sure htathe knew that James was lying for me, and I hated to think of him puttering around, thinking….knowing, that I used him.
I paced around, and eventually sunk to the ground against the purple color of my wall, hands on my face.
I heard footsteps, and groaned to greet them, but didn’t bother looking who it was.
Suprisingly, it was Hugo, who I hadn’t seemed to see in days.
“Are…you ok?” He asked, in his voice that was soft. It was kind of comforting.
“Yeah, I’ll be ok” I whispered.
He sat down besides me, and we sat in silence for a little while.
“I want to go back to Hogwarts,” he said sadly.
“Me too,” I said, “Are you ok?”
I poked at his arm, and he gave me a grin that reminded me of Dad’s.
“Sure,” he said, “But Dad and Mom are never home anymore…are they going to ever stop working?”
I laughed a little. I remember getting adjusted when I was his age to the fact that mom and dad were never home. They snuck in late at night, and they left early in the morning. Taking breaks from work for them was hard. They preferred to work on holidays.
“They love us, but they also love working. But you know, they are always there for you if you need anything. And so am I,”
“I know,” He said
“I don’t know what your problem is, but you have to face up to it eventually,” James said quickly as he passed my room.
I didn’t want to admit it but he was right. I had been lying in bed for almost two days with the exception of me showering, and sneaking down to the kitchen. I drowsily pulled myself up from my bed. Time wasn’t going to heal my problems. I was mad at myself for being so illogical.
I quickly pulled myself together and dragged myself unwillingly out the door, and right to Henry’s front porch. My hand hesitated about the door bell, but then the sickening guilt feeling came back to my stomach and I turned around and walked away. Not quickly enough, before the door opened and Henry walked out.
“Rose?” he asked to my back.
I unwillingly turned around. Seeing his soft brown hair that fell into his eyes made me regret spending so much time away from him. I wanted his lips to be touching mine again, and I wanted his hands to be around my waist again. I didn’t want to leave.
He stepped towards me.
“Are you alright?” he asked, as I realized I was feeling light headed.
“Yes. I am sorry Henry,”
“For what?” he asked, but something on his face showed that he knew why I was apologizing, and just didn’t want to admit it – to himself, or maybe to me.
“I lied. I wasn’t really sick,” I said softly.
“I know,” he said, and shrugged, trying to hide a grin.
“I’m sorry,” I said again, softly. Staring at my toes.
“If it was a mistake, I understand,”
His voice stung. I didn’t know if it was a mistake. I didn’t know what I wanted this to be, I just knew that it couldn’t be. He could tell I was upset, and came closer.
“Hey, I didn’t mean to upset you,” he said, reaching out but quickly putting his hand down, not knowing if I wanted him to touch me. But I did. I couldn’t stand him being so close, yet I couldn’t feel his warmth. I leaned into his chest, and he put his arms around me. He held me up, and wasn’t going to let me fall.
We stood like that, silent, but peaceful for a moment before he led me to the steps that creaked loudly and unpleasantly as we sat.
I gathered myself, embarrassed that I had almost cried. Embarrassed that I couldn’t control my emotions. That around Henry, I couldn’t control how I felt.
I placed my head on his shoulder, and he had a hand on my freckled knee that looked pasty despite all the time I had spent outside lately.
I took a deep breath, and thought about what I was going to say. I knew I was going to ramble, and probably say something stupid so I tried to compose my thoughts.
“Okay. I know that I have made some mistakes, but maybe not the ones you think. I just want to fix things. I don’t like things falling apart. I like having everything…organized. I just—I can’t --- I don’t want to think about the future of us. We will go our different ways. I can’t stop that. I can’t control what is going to happen. I want to be with you now. But I don’t think that we can…last. I don’t even know if this is what you want. I probably am making assumptions. Bloody hell, I don’t even know what I want. All I know is that I put you in a shitty situation. And I am sorry about that. I am sorry,” my voice faded out. I shouldn’t have spoken. I probably just made matters worse. He probably didn’t want to think of anything more than just hooking up. I don’t know how I could be so stupid. I winced waiting for him to laugh mockingly, or waiting for him to call me out on my stupid remarks, but it never came. Instead he gently stroked my knee with his thumb.
“Ok,” he said, continuing to stay in that position. I wanted him to say more. I was frustrated. I lifted my head off his shoulder quickly.
“Ok?” I asked, furrowing my eyebrows.
“Ok.” He said again, looking at me, and smiling.
“You aren’t supposed to be ok. You are supposed to be mad. You are supposed to be laughing at me, walking away. But no. You have to go and fucking smile,”
“Calm down, Rose. It’s alright. I am sorry for agreeing,” he said, his voice strained, trying to hold back a chuckle, which he tried to pass off as a cough.
“Now you are laughing at me!” I said defensively, but after hearing the whining in my voice, and trying to figure out what I had just said, and all the things that I just questioned I laughed at myself too.
He ran his fingers through my hair and down my back.
“Yeah,” I said, sighing. I rested my head on his shoulder again.
“You know, I didn’t mean to make you so upset. I didn’t want you to feel guilty,”
I smiled. I regretted spending so much time in my bed, trying to hide from the problem, when what I thought was the problem was all along the solution.
I guess I couldn’t try to fix everything at once. Some things just had to be let go. I didn’t know what our relationship was, but I wasn’t going to force anything. I just was going to let it be.
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